August 10, 2006

Digital Dimension performs CG and compositing work on Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Burbank, Calif. - Digital Dimension, the lead visual effects studio on the new NASCAR-themed motion picture Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, is responsible for the visual effects in the film's three large NASCAR race sequences, as well as other select scenes, for a total of 267 shots.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, directed by Adam McKay and released by Columbia Pictures, stars Will Farrell as a racecar driver trying to get his career on track. Digital Dimension contributed 2D, CG race cars and greenscreen composites, CG crowd creation, shot tracking, image replacement, detailed rotoscoping and digital reflections.

Digital Dimension's Visual Effects Producer Chris Del Conte notes that because almost all of the racing shots were filmed in empty stadiums, populating the grandstands and "recreating" many of the infields posed two of the project's biggest challenges. The infields were accomplished by leveraging footage captured with a high-speed moving camera car where possible. Digital Dimension compositors tracked, retimed, and color-corrected production footage to create infield splits that matched the target plates.

The crowd effects (approximately 60 shots) included working in 2D to match crowd plates to the angles and quick maneuvers of the camera, tiling 2D crowd footage or, in some cases, tracking in an entire sea of spectators behind the small group of actors filmed live on set. On shots for which there were no filmed crowd elements that matched the angle and perspective of the camera move, Digital Dimension used Massive Software's 3D crowd animation system, which allowed thousands of realistically responding, completely digital race fans to be populated in the shot.

"Massive is one of the newest additions to our toolset and using the software gave us the ability to create a fully digital crowd with precise control over the crowd's movement and range of emotional responses," says Justin Mitchell, senior CG artist at Digital Dimension. 

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby also included roughly 100 visual effects shots completed at Digital Dimension. They were intended to enhance the realism of scenes that were filmed with the movie's principal players in cars on greenscreen. Digital Dimension added subtle touches and details to these sequences, including moving backgrounds, "grime passes," visor reflections and artificial camera shake, to make it feel as if the actors were really in the race.

Certain shots and camera fly-throughs were done fully in CG by the company, with 3D digital elements ranging from the stadium, track and infield to crowds, hero race cars, and even grass. An extensive amount of removals, which saw Digital Dimension eliminating everything from film cameras to cylinders used for spectacular stunt car pyrotechnics, rounded out the work.

Software used on the production at Digital Dimension ranged from Eyeon's Digital Fusion for compositing to The Foundry's Kronos software. 3D elements were modeled, animated and rendered in Autodesk’s 3ds Max with mental images’ Mental Ray. 3D tracking solutions were applied to shots using Andersson Technologies' SynthEyes software, while completely digital 3D crowd scenes were produced with Massive from Massive Software.

Digital Dimension Credits:

Executive Producer: Benoit Girard
Executive Producer: Dan Lombardo
VFX On-Set Supervisor: Leandro Visconti
VFX Producer : Chris Del Conte
Composite Supervisor: Erik Bruhwiler
2D Coordinating Supervisor: Tammy Sutton
Lead Compositor: Ryan Smolarek
Lead Key/Compositor: Daniel Rubin
Compositors: Tommy Tran, Brian Smallwood, Travis Wade Ivy, Martin Hilke, Tatjana Bozinovski, Jeremy Appelbaum, Michael Cashore, Marco Paolini, Wing Kwok
Roto/Paint Artists: Chad Ridgeway, George Gervan Jr., Richard Gervan, Dan Walker
Matte Artist : Patrick Mullane
Lead CG Artist: Andrew Roberts
3D Artists : Justin Mitchell, Mitch Gates, Travis Yonke, Phi Tran, Tong Tran, Brian Demetz, Brandi Johnson, Hans Payer
VFX Coordinators: Joseph Bell, Anthony Kramer
VFX Production Assistant: Landon Medeiros
Production Intern: Tamar Feder
Pipeline & Tools Programmer: Sean Looper
Systems Administrator: John Brake
Systems Infrastructure: Guillermo Pussetto